GALA Star Vets and Islay RFC Vets combined forces to form the indestructible Islay Star team that cruised to victory in the Davidson Chalmers Melrose Vets Tournament on Friday.
The Edinburgh-based corporate legal firm handed this year’s winner’s trophy to the Star, who beat Melrose 31-7 in the final. The tournament bowl was won by Cayman Harlequins, who defeated GHK 17-12 while the plate went to Hong Kong Veterans after their 21-7 win over Dundee side Morgan Auld Blacks.
The popular tournament featured clubs from across the UK and abroad, playing top-level social rugby in the Borders. It was the fifth successive year the tournament has been staged and Davidson Chalmers’ third year as the sponsor.
The winning squad included Gregor Townsend, Gavin Kerr and Ian Morrison, with more than 150 caps Scottish between them, along with several Islay and Gala stalwarts. Strong links have been formed over the years between Islay RFC and Gala RFC, resulting in them entering a combined team for the Melrose tournament. The squad was sponsored by two businesses – Morrison & Murray Engineering from Gala and Bruichladdie Distillery from Islay.
Islay Star cruised through the pool stage, putting 30 points on both Orkney RFC and Tynedale, whilst only conceding one try. They then dispatched a very good Millbrae side, again scoring more than 30 points. That set them up for an encounter in the final with the hosts Melrose, who had a few internationals, including Doddie Weir and Cammie Murray.
Star turned on the style in the final, scoring 31 unanswered points, with stand-out performances from Gregor Townsend (2 tries), Gordon ‘Hoss’ Waddell (2 tries) and Mark Ballantyne, all of whom seemed to revel in putting their old adversaries to the sword. Melrose were given a late consolation try by the ref, but it was too late to make even a slight dent in what was a very impressive performance.
Speaking at the end of yet another successful tournament Andy Drane, partner at Davidson Chalmers, said: “We are proud of our association with this event and delighted we have been part of such a successful tournament.
“This event is a great precursor for a fantastic weekend of Melrose Sevens rugby and we are delighted to have once again been able to give it our support.”